The Notre Dame men’s basketball team couldn’t have asked for a better way to cap off its 2013 recruiting class.
Notre Dame got off to a great start with the pledges of 6-foot-6 forward V.J. Beachem and 6-foot-5 guard Steve Vasturia, but point guard Demetrius Jackson was the player the Irish had their eyes set on from the beginning.
The 6-foot-1, 185-pounder from nearby Mishawaka, Ind., (Marian High School) chose Notre Dame over Illinois on ESPNU’s Recruiting Nation tonight although news of his decision leaked out hours earlier.
“I think he’ll fit in great,” Jackson’s AAU coach Rod Creech said. “He’s a heckuva player. The kid can do everything. He can shoot it. He’s athletic. He can play above the rim. He can defend. He’s strong. And plus he’s a workaholic. He just loves the game and he’s at it all of the time.”
Jackson also picked up offers from Kansas, Michigan, Michigan State, Memphis, Louisville, Florida State, Butler and Xavier during the recruiting process.
The combination of an extremely talented local kid at a need position like point guard made Jackson Notre Dame’s top priority in 2013. ESPN rates Jackson as a five-star prospect and the fourth-best point guard prospect in the entire 2013 class.
Mike Brey took a heavy personal interest in Jackson’s recruitment and the two formed a strong bond as the Notre Dame head coach pitched the point guard on staying home to represent the Michiana area for the Irish men’s team the way Skylar Diggins has done for the women’s squad. Notre Dame was in on Jackson early and appeared poised to receive a commitment several months ago, but he held off and the Irish had to fight off some of the nation's elite and in the end, Illinois.
Jackson ended up deciding that the trust he built with the Irish’s staff and the idea of playing close to home outweighed the Illini’s offer of taking over point guard duties immediately. Jackson said he thought Notre Dame was the place that would help him develop as a player and a person. He's also excited about the opportunity to play in teh ACC.
“Coach Brey is great and really understands how to coach kids,” Creech said. “Demetrius is a coachable kid. He’s really going to be able to flourish in a system that is going to allow him to make plays and do what he needs to do with the ball and run the team. He’s a great leader. It should be really good.”
Jackson will back up Irish point guard Eric Atkins for a year before being handled the ball as a sophomore for the 2014-15 season.
“Veteran leadership is always huge,” said Creech. “Eric has been to war, he’s been through it for a long time. If you get a guy like that takes him under his wing and they help each other and they both prosper and the team wins, I think it’s a great fit.”